Alan So

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This week we profile a recent publication in the Journal of Cellular Physiology
from the
laboratory of Dr. Alan So (pictured) at the Vancouver Prostate Centre.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

As a surgeon scientist, my interest in research is to meld both bench side research and clinical research. I hope to be the bridge in the “bench to bedside” paradigm and bring novel concepts into actual clinical use. A unique example of this was my work on OGX-427, a novel therapeutic that I tested in bladder cancer. I performed the initial wet “bench” research, providing a “proof of principle” for which the Centre carried forwards into a Phase I clinical trial through Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute (CCSRI) funds. Hence, my research involves developing novel therapeutics for bladder and kidney cancer using modelling systems developed in my lab. Using these unique modelling systems, we have been an attractive lab to test various novel therapeutics from various pharmacologic and biotech companies from around the world.

In the past few years, Dr. Claudia Chavez-Munoz and I have been developing a 3-dimensional urogenital cancer model using organ decellularization for personalized medicine. The development of these models will potentially make a step forward on how we currently test anti-cancer drugs. This approach provides a preclinical testing platform in a personalized manner that will avoid sequential unnecessary treatments and reduce side effects. This will significantly impact the way in which we currently treat bladder and kidney cancer patients, improving patient’s quality of life and overall survival.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

Given the prevalence of sonic hedgehog pathway overexpression in cancers and in bladder cancer specifically, GLI inhibition with antisense oligonucleotides is a promising new treatment modality for urothelial carcinoma.

What are the next steps for this research?

Our group is currently trying to fully understand the mechanism of sonic hedgehog signalling to further elucidate the role of this pathway in bladder cancer growth and disease progression. Many other experiments have to be done in order to ensure that this finding can be moved forward into clinical trials.

This work was funded by:

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Canadian Urologic Oncology Group; Cancer Research Society; Terry Fox Foundation.

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